The Beloved Face in the Crowd

The news is tough. Civil unrest. Cruel dictators slaughtering their people. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Nuclear disasters. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, and to want to tune out completely.

That’s what happens when we’re deluged by unfathomable numbers.  When we hear entire villages have vanished in the recent tsunami in Japan, how does the mind take it in?

But we must take it in.  We must try. We must bear witness to the suffering of others, for in reality there is no such thing as “others” — there is only us.  But it can be difficult to hold so much suffering in our hearts when we have no face onto which we can attach our compassion.  So, I draw your attention to the folowing photos, taken from the blog of writer Marie Mutsuki Mockett. Her family lives in Iwaki City, which is south of Sendai, about 20 miles from the Daini Nuclear Power Plant and 27 miles from the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. There they run a Buddhist temple.

Marie's cousin, Sempou, conducting "Daihanya," a yearly Buddhist ceremony

Marie's cousin, and Sempou's son, Maakun. On the one hand, he's a stylish, "Harajuku going fashionista"

Maakun is also a very serious and compassionate young priest in the making.

Maakun greeting a visitor to the temple.

Marie apparently spoke to her family this morning.  They say they cannot evacuate.  Partly, I suspect, because as priests it is their duty to comfort the other survivors, and to conduct funerals. They say they are prepared to die.

Perhaps you will join me in sending support to Marie through her website, or at Twitter — @MarieMockett.  Perhaps you will join me in holding her family, as a symbol of all those who are suffering, in your heart.  Perhaps she will tell them we pray for them, and they will tell others, and suffering will lessen as compassion grows.

Thank you.


  1. Susan Ronn on March 16, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Thank you for giving this tragedy a face.

    • Lauren B. Davis on April 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      Hello, Susan. So glad you left a comment. Hope all is well in NZ.

  2. Cathy on March 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for the personalizing something which would otherwise overwhelm.

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